Chinese Medicine considers preventative care as important as treating the disease itself. If we cultivate our health we can prevent illness and injury from occurring and minimize their consequences when 'disease evils' do attack us. Join Kath Bartlett, MS, LAc as she shares thoughts, news articles, recipes & tips derived from a wide variety of source material, as it relates to Chinese medicine and cultivating optimal health for the body, mind and spirit.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Acupuncture Reduces Treatment Side-Effects in Breast Cancer Patients

Here's another study showing the benefits of acupuncture in supporting breast cancer patients in comparison to those on drug therapy. The chemo drugs typically cause hot flashes for women being treated for breast cancer. To address the hot flashes, the women are given another drug,

Venlafaxine (Effexor) which also has side effects. So Dr. Eleanor Walker and her team decided to study acupuncture's effect in treating hot flashes for breast cancer patients.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found that the acupuncture and drug group had similar results in reduction of symptoms (mainly hot flashes and depression are noted here) during treatment. But the post treatment follow-up is where it gets interesting. The drug patients symptoms returned within two weeks from when they stopped taking the drug. But the acupuncture patients stayed symptom free longer. The abstract mentions that it was 3 months later until re-emergence of symptoms were seen in the acupuncture group. Based on my clinical experience, I'm hypothesizing that had these women continued treatments at a maintenance frequency, symptoms may not have reappeared. When symptoms did re-emerge, only a short 'booster' course of treatments would have been needed to address them.

The acupuncture group also experienced other beneficial results of treatment not seen in the drug group, such a increased energy and libido, mental clarity (chemo patients often experience 'brain fog') and a greater sense of well-being during treatment for this life threatening disease. KB

Acupuncture Improves Quality of Life Among Breast Cancer Patients

Posted on 2010-01-06 06:00:00 in Alternative Medicine | Cancer |

Eleanor M. Walker, from Henry Ford Hospital (Michigan, USA), and colleagues studied 50 breast cancer patients, randomly assigned to receive either acupuncture or drug (venlafaxine) treatment for 12 weeks. The acupuncture group received treatments twice per week for the first four weeks, and then once a week for the remaining eight weeks, while the drug therapy group took venlafaxine orally each night, 37.5mg the first week and then 75mg for the remaining 11 weeks. At the end of 12 weeks, all patients stopped their therapy and were followed for one year. Patients kept a diary to record the number and severity of hot flashes, and took surveys to measure their overall health and mental health. While both groups initially experienced a 50% decline in hot flashes and depressive symptoms, differences began to emerge two weeks post-treatment: The acupuncture group continued to experience minimal hot flashes, while the drug therapy group had a significant increase in hot flashes. The acupuncture group did not experience an increase in the frequency of their hot flashes until three months post-treatment. Noting in addition that ”the acupuncture group experienced no negative adverse effects. Acupuncture had the additional benefit of increased sex drive in some women, and most reported an improvement in their energy, clarity of thought, and sense of well-being,” the researchers conclude that: “Acupuncture appears to be equivalent to drug therapy in these patients. It is a safe, effective and durable treatment for vasomotor symptoms secondary to long-term antiestrogen hormone use in patients with breast cancer.”

Eleanor M. Walker, Alba I. Rodriguez, Beth Kohn, Ronald M. Ball, Jan Pegg, Jeffrey R. Pocock, Ramon Nunez, Ed Peterson, Susan Jakary, and Robert A. Levine. “Acupuncture Versus Venlafaxine for the Management of Vasomotor Symptoms in Patients With Hormone Receptor–Positive Breast Cancer: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” J Clinical Oncology published online December 28, 2009, DOI:10.1200/JCO.2009.23.5150.

Study Shows Yoga Practice Reduces Inflamation Associated with Age Related Diseases

Those who have been following by blog know that I am a yogini: a female yogi, or yoga practitioner. As such, this study demonstrating the benefits of yoga in reducing inflammation, stress and aging caught my eye. I thought others would find it interesting, too. This study looked at yoga, but i believe similar results and benefits would be found with tai qi and qi gong (literally 'qi work' or energy work/cultivation: yoga is a qi gong exercise).

I recently ran across some old "Yoga Journal" articles showing the benefits of restorative yoga for chronic illness, AIDS and auto immune disorders. Restorative yoga are relaxation poses requiring little to no muscle work, so that one lies in the pose for an extended period of time (5-10min. The idea is to put the body in a deep state of relaxation in order to rest and strengthen the immune system which is debilitated in chronic illness. In "Quantum Healing" Deepak Chopra discusses Ayurveda medicine (ancient Indian medicine developed by the vedics (sage doctors of the Hindu and yoga traditions: includes herbal, dietary and hot oil massage treatments). One the cardinal aims of Ayurveda treatment is to induce a deep state of relaxation so that the weak immune system can gather strength and activate itself. In the book he cites examples of cancer patients from his clinical practice who have achieved what traditional doctors call 'spontaneous' remissions (meaning medically unexplained) by using these practices to induce the healing response.

I highly recommend the book Relax and Renew about restorative yoga poses and sequences that anyone can do, regardless of physical condition or yoga experience (also included on the recommended reading list on this blog). For experienced yogis i would add Shoulder Stand (10-20min), Headstand 5-10min) and Halasana (5min). KB

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How Chinese Medicine Treats Autoimmune Disorders

Here's an interesting paper written by a CA practitioner about how Chinese Medicine addresses autoimmune disorders, particularly chemical sensitivities.

Autoimmune Disorders, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities
and Chinese Medicine

by Matt Van Benschoten, O.M.D., L.Ac.

About the Author

Dr. Van Benschoten is a graduate of the California Acupuncture College of Los Angeles, with 28 years of clinical, research, and teaching experience in acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and medical Qi Gong. He is the author of more than fifty papers on acupoint diagnostic methods, chronic fatigue syndrome, AIDS, autoimmune disease, breast cancer, mercury toxicity, and indoor mold exposure. His clinical practice focuses on multi-drug resistant infections, immune dysfunction, and environmental illness.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dietary Basics: Do's and Don'ts

This is the one year anniversary of my blog. I began this blog at New Year's last year with a popular post about yoga practices and lifestyle suggestions for health and longevity (see January '09 archives). The response encouraged me to continue blogging, and i discovered that i enjoyed it: averaging 4-6 posts/month. Readership has increased throughout the year and I've attracted a few comments and followers. I'm pleased to learn that there is an audience interested in my point of view.

Like most of the world, I've been in slow gear this past week+, working a reduced clinic schedule. I've been using the leisure time to rest and watch old movies, a yin activity for winter solstice.

Today I've picked up a book that's been on my shelf for maybe 15y that i use for reference and read occasionally "Staying Healthy With Nutrition" by Elson Haas, MD. It's a comprehensive book about diet and nutrition that i highly recommend. I'm sure an updated edition must be out, but the info presented still feels current, though esp. dosage info on nutritional supplements has probably changed.

I ran across a list of eating suggestions for those dining out. I realize this is not particularly timely, as most of the holiday season travel is completed, and excepting the occasional sunny getaway, most travel and dining out won't start up again until spring. Esp. with winter bills, taxes and the recession cutting back on discretionary spending items, restaurant usage will be severely curtained in the next few months. Still, the ideas are sound, and worth mentioning, so tuck it away for future use. I've added a couple of my own suggestions to the list.



Fresh fruit juice
(add water to cut the high
sugar content)
fruit & yogurt
oatmeal, granola
whole grains
soft or hard boiled eggs

sugar products & baked goods
bacon, sausage
fried or scrambled eggs or omelette's (due to the fat)



Hamburgers, hot dogs
fried foods
lunch meat sandwiches (too processed)


whole grains
fish, poultry

steak, ham & pork chops (too heavy)
Heavy sauces
rich desserts


mineral water
fresh fruit

soft drinks
candy bars, cookies, chips

In looking over the list, maybe it is a little more timely than I realized. After all the overindulgence of the past month, most are ready to improve their diets and adopt more healthy habits for the new year. These dietary recommendations are sound basic dietary principles not restricted to restaurant do's and don'ts.

In general, avoid processed foods (including anything coming out of a box or can) and include more whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies. Buying foods from the bulk department of the natural food store (not Costco) saves on excess packaging (for the environment) and ensures whole foods (not processed) are being selected.

Something else to remember, esp. in the winter months, is vit D synthesis. Vit D is synthesized in the skin from direct sunlight. However in the winter months, due to the shorter days and cold weather most do not get much direct sunlight. Make it a habit to take an afternoon walk between 12 & 3p, when the sun is the brightest, shining directly overhead. A brisk walk for 30min will benefit the cardiovascular system, work the muscles, burn much needed calories during this particularly sedentary time of year, and get you out for some much needed fresh air and sunshine. KB